by Deb Ng
We’ve had some requests. We’re all about a positive user experience here at Network Blogging Tips, so requests don’t get back burnered if we can help it. Our readers want to learn more about starting their own blogs and earning their own income in addition to working for someone else. What follows is the first in our new Blogging for Beginners series – how to choose a niche.
Why Get Nichey?
Not too many “personal” blogs do well. If you want to succeed it’s best to choose a niche and establish yourself as an expert or authority. Readers get confused by blogs that follow too many tangents and don’t have a specific focus. Moreover, it’s hard to get search engine traffic when you’re not blogging about a specific topic. You want a blog that has an easily definable goal. One that teaches, shares ideas, and builds a community around other like-minded individuals.
What’s YOUR Passion?
Are you a home brew aficionado? Can you identify every breed of tomato with a quick glance? Do you spend every spare moment rocking the knitting needles? If so, these are good things to blog about. Many network bloggers or freelance bloggers blog what their clients ask them too without having a passion and they quickly burn out. If you truly want your blog to succeed, it’s important to know and love your topic so you can share your enthusiasm with your readers.
Bonus Points for Originality
What do these topics have in common:
- Work from Home
- Make Money Online
- Freelance Writing
These are some of the most popular blog topics on the web. There’s nothing wrong with writing about being a work at home mom or making money online, but if you’re going to tap into an over saturated niche, think of some way you can set yourself apart from the rest. Readers want originality, not the same rehashed content found everywhere else. When Jennifer and I thought we wanted to blog about blogging, we wondered how we can do that without getting lost in all the other blogs about blogging. Then it hit us, both of us blogged for networks but no one offered tips specifically for network bloggers. Viola! There was our Niche.
What Are the Other Nichey People Doing?
Once you have a niche or two in mind, you want to do a bit of exploration. Read the other blogs in your niche. What are they talking about? What seems to be the types of discussions that get the most comments? What appear to be their most popular keywords? Why do you think certain blogs in this niche are so popular while others fail? How can you be different from these other blogs, yet still blend in with the community?
Nothing to Stop You Now
Now you know about the importance of choosing the right niche. Get yourself a pad and paper and write down everything you feel passionate about. Once you have a decent list going, make another list with bullet points under each niche listing the things you can talk about. Can you go on forever about said niche, or do you fall short after a few items? Having a list of things to blog about before you start will be helpful in defining your niche and also making sure it’s something you can talk about on a regular basis.
- Choose a topic you love
- Choose a topic you can write about every day
- Choose a topic you know a lot about
- Choose a topic that inspires a range of emotions
- Choose a topic that will stimulate discussion
Well? What are you waiting for….go make your list!
I started a blog about the topic I was most interested in writing about as a freelance writer – green living. I don’t have a huge following, but I have a bit of one, but that’s not why I do it.
I do it so when I apply for a writing gig on an environmental topic I can point to both published clips and my blog. I think the blog that is updated at least once daily Monday through Friday shows potential clients that I am serious about the subject. It helps establish me as an expert as Deb mentioned.
I’ve gotten plenty of paying gigs based off of my blog, A Little Greener Every Day. I’ve purposely kept it something that I make no money off of – there is no advertising on it at all. Yes, it takes time and during that time I am making no money. But I really believe that without the blog, I wouldn’t have gotten many of the clients and gigs that I have over the past six months or so.
In fact, I start a new blogging gig next week that I am so excited about (and that pays really well) that I know I wouldn’t have gotten without some of the clips from my own blog.
So listen to Deb. She knows what she is talking about. If she hadn’t been saying, “blog, blog, blog, blog” I probably would have never thought to start my own blog.
Thank you, Deb. This is such an on-target post. It answers several of my questions. I didn’t comment about the changes earlier, but I just wanted to say – the benefits of the new format started sinking in last week, a few days after you had made them. And this post is just one example to show that this ‘network of blogs’ idea rocks!! I read and enjoy the other blogs as well. And it IS easier now to find and enjoy the different posts on different topics. Thanks and way to go!!
Thank you for this post! Just beginning my own niche blog has already been fun and rewarding. I’ve only been at it this week! My readership has blossomed and I have been working hard to keep it that way.
I use the tips I’ve learned from here because network blogging does have a lot in common with running your own, with a few exceptions. I am really glad you have decided to pursue the self-blogging topic. I can’t wait to read more!
Great article Deb. I started blogging a few months back, mostly on your advice that freelancers need a blog, so I decided to give it a try. Although I’m still fairly new to this, my blog is growing and I think that is largely because it is a unique niche – home-based jobs that are environmentally focused.
Just as we work as freelancers to make ourselves unique and create a niche that we can market ourselves with, we need to do the same thing as bloggers. The more I blog, the more great blogs I come across (@Robin – I have been to your site in my travels!). The competition is fierce out there, but creating something unique is certainly part of the key to success.
Great stuff! I’ve had a blog collecting dust for quite awhile, just never think to put stuff in it. It was filled with various stuff…a personal blog. I’m finding that these are only somewhat rewarding for me, losing their luster and appeal soon.
The niche thing really has me interested. I think I’ll dust that bad boy off and start talking about stuff I know…I’ve got a couple ideas already, but my main one has stuck with me for a while…video game stuff. I know that’s a bit ‘oh boy, here we go again’-ish, but its one of the few things I know a lot about. And I think it’ll be easier to write about and actually connect with others…I’ve never had anyone follow my blog. Why would they? They don’t know me and the recollections of my personal woes and triumphs wouldn’t interest them.
So thanks, you’ve given me quite a bit of focus!